The NBA is finally making an effort to rein in star players’ seemingly unflappable ability to control what team they play for, no matter the costs.
With Damian Lillard’s request to be traded from the Portland Trail Blazers — and not-so-secret desire to end up on the Miami Heat — the latest headline, the league issued a memo to teams indicating players cannot force their way to a single team and could be disciplined for insinuating they wouldn’t fulfill their contract.
Last season, Kevin Durant reportedly indicated that Phoenix was his preferred trade destination, and the Brooklyn Nets ended up sending him to the Suns. Kyrie Irving was also unhappy on the Nets and was traded to the Dallas Mavericks.
The memo reiterates concerns NBA commissioner Adam Silver has previously raised. During this year‘s All-Star weekend he said he was “strongly against” players speaking publicly about wanting to be traded.
Some players will inevitably end up disgruntled and want out of their teams but consistently aggressive trade demands could leave small market NBA teams in particular with no ability to retain star players even if they sign them to contract extensions beyond their rookie deals.
Situations to watch involving young stars not in top-tier markets include LaMelo Ball and the Charlotte Hornets, Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans, and Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies.